Sunday, February 22, 2015

On The Bus

"In professional stage racing, particularly the Tour de France, riders who are not in a position to win the race or assist a teammate, will usually attempt to ride to the finish within a specified percentage of the winner's finishing time, to be permitted to start the next day's stage. Often, riders in this situation band together to minimize the effort required to finish within the time limit; this group of riders is known as the gruppetto or autobus." Road Bicycle Racing, Wikipedia (2015).

Choosing a 5K primarily either uphill or downhill (very little flat terrain) for the first real run in 15 years may not have been especially wise. Granted, the recent treadmill sessions were confidence builders, and I had no illusions of grandeur. Before we had even begun I took my place with the affectionately labeled "Water Buffaloes." No doubt a term of endearment.

It was not long into the effort with folks half (or less than half) my age before reality set in. Running the whole way would be unlikely. Yet.... The folks in my group were encouraging, supportive and refused my suggestion that they run their own pace. "This is a great pace" once of them claimed. They chatted amiably (I gasped for breath) about the route, the nice weather and the fact is was Friday. Eventually we arrived back at the Academy, me none the worse for wear.

Our time? Slow. But when the discussion turned to how slow? Wait a minute. I may be old, and new at my job....

In any cycling event, be it the above mentioned TdF or a local group ride, there is always "The Bus." It is generally comprised of cyclists who don't ride very long (or very often) at the front. They make the effort, do the route and get each other home in whatever time propriety demands. Membership on the bus is restricted to those willing to help each other get to the finish with dignity intact (and ahead of the time cut). For those unwilling to lend a hand, or encouragement, there is always the Sag Wagon.

The men and women who saved me a place on the bus did so with grace. I walked a bit, ran a bit more and was still jogging at the end. Two days later, enough lactic acid had dissolved that I could shovel my driveway without whimpering.

Don't dis The Bus. A lot of fine cyclists ride it, so that they can fight another day. For me, it meant success on my first real run in a long time. Back to the treadmill so that I can ride the bus some more.

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